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AFL pundits call out Brodie Grundy's eye-catching move to take down Max Gawn

The Swans recruit got the better of his former teammate Max Gawn.

Brodie Grundy shone on his Swans debut, helping Sydney to a 22-point victory over the Melbourne Demons on Thursday night, virtually playing his former teammate Max Gawn out of the game. Grundy was brought to the club after his partnership with Gawn didn't go to plan at the Demons last year.

The Demons' two-pronged ruck attack spectacularly failed, with Grundy ending the 2023 season in the VFL before eventually moving to the Swans for a fresh start. Against his former club and teammate, Grundy had a point to prove and unleashed a clever tactic to nullify the Demons captain.

Brodie Grundy got the better of his former teammate and six-time All-Australian Max Gawn in the Swans season opening win on Thursday night. Image: Getty
Brodie Grundy got the better of his former teammate and six-time All-Australian Max Gawn in the Swans season opening win on Thursday night. Image: Getty

Despite only being at Melbourne for 12 months, the former Collingwood big man clearly worked out where Gawn's weaknesses were from training alongside him and put it into action on Thursday. At each of the centre bounces Grundy stepped across Gawn's line to deny him space and the ability to run and jump at the ball.

The Demons captain is so used to using his giant frame to bully the opposition rucks at the centre bounce that he was left with little answers to Grundy's physical approach. Throughout the match, the Demons captain was bullied by his former teammate at centre bounce and in ball ups, with Channel 7 commentators noting that the Swans recruit was making the most of the change to the centre ruck rule.

"Brodie Grundy on about four occasions has stepped across the line to take Max Gawn’s space," James Brayshaw said just after half-time. "There’s been a change in the centre circle ruck rule. You can now fend off. We will watch that with interest, it's a change in technique for him."

Four-time premiership winner Luke Hodge said Grundy was dominating the ruck and Gawn needed to use the same tactic back. "I think he should try to do the same thing. He’s letting Grundy take all the ground off him. Why doesn’t he initiate the contact and move over Grundy’s side to try and do the same," Hodge said.

Luke Hodge, pictured here alongside Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn.
Luke Hodge was impressed by Brodie Grundy's tactics against Max Gawn. Image: Getty/Channel 7

Max Gawn says season opener was one of the toughest of his career

Following the match Gawn said he let himself down as the Demons were beaten by 22-points. The Melbourne captain said the game was one of the toughest of his career due to a mixture of the humid and sweaty conditions and the physical treatment he received from Swans players.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24: Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn of the Demons pose for a photo during the 2023 AFL match simulation between the St Kilda Saints and the Melbourne Demons at RSEA Park on February 24, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
The Demons' two-pronged ruck attack of Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy spectacularly failed last year, seeing Grundy end the year in the VFL before moving to the Swans for a fresh start. (Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Despite his disappointment, Gawn praised Grundy for using his inside knowledge of his game to lock him up in a wrestle rather than a jumping contest. "A lot of rucks do that to me at centre bounce. I feel like centre bounce has been a strength of mine for years, and obviously Brodie knows it more than anyone and he rushed the line every single time," Gawn said.

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"It was probably 50-50 (battle) in the centre bounce, but he probably got me around the ground. He definitely got me around the ground and I found it really incredibly tough out there today. The Sydney boys did well targeting me around the ground and credit to them. Brodie played extremely well."

Grundy's performance also saw his former coach Simon Goodwin sing his praises. "He played exceptionally well," Goodwin said in his post-match press conference.

"Clearly he’s a very good player. We know that. We’ve had him in our environment and know what he’s capable of doing. Seeing him thrive in Sydney is a good thing for footy. Credit to Brodie. He was well prepared and executed well."

with AAP

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